120 Chinese tourists heading to Phuket

In this handout file photo from the Royal Thai Navy taken and released on Feb 04, 2020 navy officials in protective suits stand beside a plane that brought Thai nationals back from Wuhan, the original epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak, at the military U-Tapao Airport in Rayong. (AFP)

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Thailand will receive its first foreign tourists since April, when a flight from China arrives next week.

The flight marks the gradual restart of international tourism.

The first flight will have about 120 tourists from Guangzhou, flying directly to the resort island of Phuket, Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn told Reuters.

Thailand has kept coronavirus infections low with just 3,559 cases and 59 deaths, but the economy has taken a hit from a ban on foreign visitors since April and is expected to contract 8.5% this year.

The government expects 1,200 tourists in the first month, generating about 1 billion baht in revenue and 12.4 billion baht over one year, drawing in 14,400 tourists.

Nationalities permitted to enter will be from countries deemed low risk by the government, which will keep tabs on them.

"We are not opening the country, we are limiting the number of entries and will manage with wristbands and apps to follow them," Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told reporters.

Thailand in January was the first country outside of China to detect the coronavirus, in a visitor from Wuhan.

"Tourists will be on a long stay visa starting Oct 8 and will stay in alternative state quarantine for 14 days," Mr Yuthasak said.

Visitors need health insurance and a negative coronavirus test 72 hours before travelling and will be tested twice in quarantine.

"Thailand's protection system can prevent a second wave," a government spokeswoman said.


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